Is Every Child An Artist?

Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.~~~ Pablo Picasso

So I thought I’d give you all a chuckle. This was my school photo from way back in the sixties. My mum gave my sisters and I a home perm that year right before school started.

My first year in school I went to a one roomed schoolhouse, but even back then I can remember my love for drawing.

So when I thought about this quote by Picasso it really seemed to hit home. What young child doesn’t like to draw? It seems a nature thing the moment they can hold a pencil in their hands for them to produce something on that paper. They don’t worry about what it looks like, they simply produce what is in them to create. Kind of cool when you stop to think of it. No inner critic telling them their work sucks. All they want to do is to have fun.  :)

Once kids discover the written word they start creating sentences  that turn into stories. They just write. It doesn’t even matter if the story makes a whole lot of sense. That hardly seems the important part.

We all remember the first stories our kids brought home in Primary. We marvelled in these little stories, took delight in each misspelled word, every grammar mistake, as we read the words they had strung together to form a beginning, middle and end. (Hey even without those three elements we loved their stories. Didn’t we?)

But then along the way some kids decide they don’t like to write or draw or paint, for whatever reason, while others go on to express themselves in more complex ways. They are the ones who went on to become artists and writers. And thankfully so. I’m almost certain that these kids were the ones who believed their work was wonderful, and who possessed that need to keep expressing themselves, to improve that natural talent they started out with the first time they were able to hold that pencil in their tiny fingers.

Do you agree with Picasso when he said that every child is an artist? Or do you think that artistry comes later in life?

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  1. Awww, what a cutie! :) My mother used to perm my hair, too, and I have a school photo similar to that – taken in a two-room schoolhouse. (Funny thing is, I was thinking about posting that photo someplace but now it will seem as if I am copying you. :) )

    I believe all children, in the attempt to find their way of expression, are artistic. Not all at the same level of ability, nor at the same level of accomplishment, but they do what they feel inside them. Few seem to adhere to that but move on to other things, often things that do not reveal as much of themselves to others. Maybe they leave it behind because of that fact, their artistic side is revealing.

    My grandson (starting school on Thursday!) now prints his name, and the scribbles that follow make up a whole story that only he can read. His drawings are also quite creative and it will be interesting to see what he keeps of that part of himself.

    So, the short answer — yes, having said all that — I agree with that quote.

    • Oh my, the home perms were everywhere, it would seem. Ah come on I want to see your photo. Go ahead!

      How sweet that your grandson is starting school. I guess you can clearly see his artist abilities. Time will tell what path he will take in the future!

  2. Bruce

     /  August 30, 2010

    You look like your mum in that picture, I think. And I see a lot of Matt there, too.

    I always liked any stories I wrote, even if my teachers didn’t always agree. Art class was a different matter though. I don’t really remember the first time it happened, but I can remember quite well in the grade school era hating anything I drew. It didn’t ever look enough like whatever I was trying to draw to please me.

    I know… You’re shocked, aren’t you? :P

    • Ah you were too hard on yourself when it came to art. Who knows, you may have been a budding Picasso. At least you liked the stories you wrote so I guess that says something. :)

      Am I shocked that you posted a comment or that nothing you drew ever pleased you? :)

      BTW thanks for dropping by and leaving a comment.

  3. Oh those wonderful home perms we were all subjected to. Mom left mine in too long once and I refused to go to school the next day. I agree with Picasso that all children are artists. Some have a strong passion to keep their artistic abilities alive while others fall under the “so what will you do for a real job” attitude that most of society has. Over the years as an employment counselor I have interviewed many people who are frustrated with their jobs as accountants, plumbers, receptionists etc. as they really wanted to be an artist but were discouraged not to do so. My daughter is a talented potter and, although she doesn’t have a lot of money, she is happy. And I never did give her a home perm. Thanks Laura for a thought provoking article.

    • Thanks for dropping in and for your comment, Darlene. I can only say that I am proud of you for never giving your daughter a home perm. :)

      People seem to look at art in those terms as a “can you make money doing it” and we do not give enough value to artistic endeavorers. A friend of mine often asked me in the beginning of my writing career if I thought I was” breaking even.” She worried that it was costing me more in postage than I was getting back….She doesn’t have that worry now that I have a published book. :)

  4. What a cute picture! :)

    As for the quote, I’ll have to give it some thought…. Interesting post!

  5. Hi Laura:

    I was always good with words…I knew I wanted to be a writer by the time I was eight years old. However, my mom was an artist, and I had no drawing ability whatsoever…it didn’t bother me…I wasn’t interested. My middle daughter has inherited my mom’s genes (and her paternal grandfather’s), and will probably be the artist in the family. That works for me!


    • Many of us know by the time we are quite young that we want to be writers/artists, etc… But not everyone knows this in the beginning. Some people do not come to this realization until much later in life.

  6. What a cute picture. My mom never gave me a perm ’cause it was already curly. My curls relaxed as I got older and I gave myself a perm right before my wedding. It turned out to be as tight as an afro.

    • Thanks Tricia. Yeah cure with the curly hair and freckles!!! Hated the freckles when I got older.

      Oh you were a lucky one with natural curly hair. I bet you didn’t like it, though. Most people say they don’t. My hair is a limp as a wet noodle,

  7. You were too cute, Laura. Best of all you look so inspired. I love that. I remember drawing in school and feeling so alive, but not knowing how to describe the feeling. I feel that way today when I’m working on a story. Praise God for artistic expression.

    • Inspired at the ripe old age of 5.Hmmm

      Praise God, indeed! Where would we all be without artistic expression!

  8. I think Picasso is right. When I taught high school, my students loved it when there was a chance to get out the pencil crayons or markers to work on a poster or a mind map or plot graph. They derived a lot of happiness from playing with colour and design, even the ones who had already decided they weren’t artistic. In fact, they were my favourites because their pride in the final project was amplified by their sense of achieving something they didn’t think they could do. And working with colour and design helped my visual learners remember the material we covered.
    For me, I find that a great way to calm my inner voices is to draw or to colour a picture in a colouring book. Concentrating on where to draw the next line or which colour to pick and keeping it in the lines leaves no part of my brain available for negative thought. Very refreshing and energizing.
    P.S. My mom gave me perms, too.

    • So was the home perm a Canadian thing or just a sign of the times we grew up in?

      Last year I purchased a sketch pad. In my younger years I lived to draw and I wasn’t so bad at it. It’s been years since I sketched anything. I haven’t made the time. Hopefully one day I will.

  9. Hmmm… never so much as thought about writing until I was 50.

    • I guess you were a late bloomer, but they say “better late than never,” and Dave, you’re certainly proving that saying right. :) Imagine a world without “Bad Latitudes.”

  10. Interesting post. I do tend to agree with that. Seems kids really are just more free to let things out, art being one of them. No constraints to hold the creativity back, right? Thought provoking. Thanks!

    • That is the wonderful thing about little kids, they express themselves in whatever way they want, no thoughts of right or wrong or if it’s good enough. No constraints, as you say, Lynn.

  11. smalltownbiglife

     /  August 31, 2010

    I do agree with Picasso’s comment. And I have naturally curly hair so my mom never had to perm my hair (but it certainly looked like she had given me a super-perm!). You were a cutie-pie.

    • Thanks for visiting and for your comment! Ah natural curly, another lucky one. Most kids I knew with naturally curly hair didn’t like it because their hair was so hard to manage. I wouldn’t have minded a bit of body in my hair or something..

  12. Shari has a better memory than I! I recall setting pin curls for her when she was very little, but a perm? She hasn’t told you she has naturally wavy hair, has she?

    I don’t know if I agree with Picasso or not. I tend to think some children have a greater natural creativity than others but I also agree that the inhibitions we develop as we grow stifle earlier self expression in whatever degree it may have existed. Adults who try to convince children to “colour between the lines”, who frown at indistinct pictures and pepper the child with “what is it” questions, and suggest conformity (“colour the sun yellow and the trees green, dear”) probably hasten those inhibitions. But parents will tell you that different children in the same family, given the same encouragement and opportunities for self-expression don’t necessarily develop the same abilities. It’s an interesting quote to consider.

    • Your comment, Carol, has made me consider what the definition of an artist is. This is something I may have to post about.

      I agree that children can be discouraged from further developing their artistic abilities. Some of course will lose interest along the way, as well. It would be wonderful if we lived in a world where art is truly valued for what it is. While some do value it, many do not see it as practical and often children are discouraged. Too sad.

  13. I def think all kids are born artists. Being an artist is a way of perceiving the world, and translating that perception (to me). When something touches my children their natural tendency is to replicate it or explore it through arts and crafts, music, story telling, role playing.


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